From 2012 to 2015, Stillness of Heart will share interesting excerpts from the extraordinary diary of Kate Stone, who chronicled her Louisiana family’s turbulent experiences throughout the Civil War era.
Stone offers a slice of life in Oak Ridge, La., as her caretakers search for a window of safety to escort her back to Texas.
Oct. 15, 1864
Near Oak Ridge, La.
We have kept on the even tenor of our ways with no hairbreadth escapes by land or sea to ruffle the calm. There are still occasional reports of advancing Yankee raids, but all blow over and no Yankees yet, though this country is still defenseless. …
We have little company and pay few visits, but we enjoy the days, and the weeks fly by like magic — no startling events to mark them off. Capt. Wylie and Dr. Wylie are here. They amuse themselves during the day, but in the evening we all assemble, play chess or cards, and carry on long and animated discussions on all topics under the sun. All the older members of the family are very fond of argument and discussion and are thoughtful talkers and well educated, though one must know them some time before finding that last out.
We made a rule fining everyone for each lapse in grammar, which worked famously for awhile, until we found we would soon all be bankrupt in both purse and temper, and by tacit consent it was dropped and grammar is no more alluded to. Mrs. Templeton said she knew she would never be fined. She knew every rule in the book, but she was the first and most grievous offender and hated worst to be reported. … We lounge in rocking chairs building fairy castles in the air, mapping out lives of goodness and noble endeavor, until Mrs. Templeton rouses from her half-doze on the bed and sends us all to rest. …
Our pleasant days are drawing to a close as Mamma writes she will send Johnny at once for me, and we are looking for him every day. Capt. Brigham rode in from Monroe to tell us that the long expected tableau would come off the next evening and that he had come in to escort us out. Early the next morning we three girls and Sally McGraw with Jimmy, Capt. Wylie, and Capt. Brigham as outriders and the maid Henrietta bringing up the rear, made our way to Monroe under many difficulties. We had a most trying time after reaching there, owing to Capt. Brigham’s blundering. We did not enjoy the tableau as we were too worried and were thankful to be all safe at Mrs. Templeton’s next evening.
The last time I shall write here. Johnny arrived with the carriage two days ago, and we start home tomorrow. This will end a most pleasant visit, or rather visitation, for I have been here more than three months. All the family have been unfailingly kind and have done all in their power to make me enjoy the time. I certainly have had a most charming visit and grieve to leave them. Then I shall have to break off two most promising flirtations. My only comfort is in thinking of the lovely trip Johnny and I are going to have a comfortable carriage well stocked with lunches, a good driver, strong mules, no hurry, and a lodging every night with friends, good roads, and fair October weather.